Solo set off for Wit’s End last Monday. His traveling companion, Colombo, had a training session on Tuesday morning, so Solo went up a day early. The Canadian Y.E.H. finals were on the Wednesday.
On Tuesday Solo was ridden around and jumped all sorts of little things at Peter Gray’s barn, where he was stabled. Solo was very grown up about it and barely spooked at anything. Selena was impressed.
We shipped him onto the show grounds on the Wednesday morning. He had a stall there, but both horses were continuing to stable overnight at Peter’s until the end of the training sessions on Thursday morning. However, we were able to take them both up to the showground on Wednesday and park them in the empty stalls during the day. This gave Solo an opportunity to mellow out and gawk at everything from his stall.
I love being able to put a young horse in a stall at a show and just leave him to get on with it. His stall had a great panoramic view of the stabling area and the busy laneway, up which, horses, pedestrians and vehicles made their way to the dressage, stadium and cross country. This did not stop him being a very bad boy and yelling and kicking the tent whenever Colombo was ridden away! This was the first time he had made a fuss at a show about his traveling companions being moved around and taken away. I think the view of Colombo steadily disappearing was a bit too much, perhaps a little less ‘view’ would be easier to deal with.
First came the dressage, the arena was down in a valley, lots of plants and flags and no other horses to be seen anywhere. But believe it or not, Solo just got on with a workmanlike test as though he had never spooked, napped, bucked or reared in his life. He had one arena corner that for some reason he felt it was important that he just shift his body enough to the inside to make his point, but NOTHING compared to his usual athletic sideways cavorting. All in all, he behaved like a superstar and was a very good boy throughout the whole test, springy, elastic and obedient. He was first to go. The judge specifically invited the young horses to go in and walk around inside the ring before starting the tests. It made such a difference!
First to go in the jumping, he jumped everything with gusto and style but Selena said he felt spooky. As we watched the following horses we could see that several of them were spooky. The jumping finished with a gallop up a slight hill past the judges, he really liked that bit, what a stride he has.
Then conformation and movement, done ‘in hand’ and lastly suitability where the whole class goes into the ring and walks, trots and canters together to give the judge an opportunity to compare the horses.
It took about 3 hours altogether. The four year-old class was running simultaneously using the same panel of four judges. It was a lovely sunny day and the view from Wit’s End was lovely.
Solo finished second to Ian Robert’s lovely Westphalian stallion, F.N.Gaudy who won the four year-old class last year. Solo was less than 2 points behind him and we were thrilled to be second in such good company. All in all we all felt that Solo had finally proven himself to be the horse we have all been hoping for. He is on lighter work for a while now, just some hacking and jumping with less emphasis on the more rigorous training on hills, dressage and grids. This is to give him some mental down time before he starts the build up to Florida.